Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Iran - The Existential Race Between Nukes & A Revolution

Iran has been our greatest foreign policy challenge for the past five years. Obama has been singularly ineffective in dealing with the threat posed by the mad mullahs and their push towards a nuclear arsenal. That said, Iran is a country gripped in a slow motion revolution. It is a race to see which will come first, a successful revolution or the mad mullah's coming close enough to deploying its own nuclear weapons that we either attack or cede to them their arsenal. That latter comes with incredibly destabilizing ramifications for the Middle East and the entire free world.

Ex-CIA Director Michael Hayden, appearing on CNN the other day, stated what has been obvious now for years - that Iran is determined to achieve a nuclear arsenal, that they are not going to be deterred by negotiations or diplomacy, and that a military strike is fast becoming one of our few remaining options. This from the Daily Caller:

A former CIA director says military action against Iran now seems more likely because no matter what the U.S. does diplomatically, Tehran keeps pushing ahead with its suspected nuclear program.

Michael Hayden, a CIA chief under President George W. Bush, said that during his tenure “a strike was way down the list of options.” But he tells CNN’s State of the Union that such action now “seems inexorable.”

“In my personal thinking,” Hayden said, “I have begun to consider that that may not be the worst of all possible outcomes.”

Hayden said that the likelihood of a U.S. strike on Iran has risen in the face of Tehran’s defiance to halt its contentions nuclear program, saying “We engage. They continue to move forward.”

“We vote for sanctions. They continue to move forward. We try to deter, to dissuade. They continue to move forward,” he added.

The former CIA chief predicted Iran, in defiance of the international community, planned to “get itself to that step right below a nuclear weapon, that permanent breakout stage, so the needle isn’t quite in the red for the international community.”

Hayden said that reaching even that level would be “as destabilizing to the region as actually having a weapon.”

As to the internal news out of Iran, perhaps the best source is Michael Ledeen and his blog at PJM. He paints a picture of an Iranian regime that has lost all legitimacy and now governs with pure brute force. He further tells us of a revolution percolating under the surface, with the merchant class now having joined. This is the latest from Michael Ledeen:

. . . –first of all, there is still no end to the bazaar strike, even though the regime has taken very violent action against the strikers. A large part of the beautiful bazaar in Kerman has been torched . . .;

– the major natural gas pipeline between Iran and Turkey was sabotaged. Enormous damage was done, and the authorities have no estimate as to how long it will be until repair work is finished. . . ;

– Saturday – Sunday night there was a serious fire at the old petrochemical plant on Kharq island. That island is very important to Iran, because it is at once the central point from which Iranian crude oil is exported, and one end of the major pipeline that carries crude and refined products to the mainland. So anything that goes wrong there has immediate consequences both for the national economy and for daily life;

– you may recall that a bit over a week ago, amidst the continuing strikes at major bazaars around the country, there was a double suicide terrorist attack against the mosque in Zahedan, killing nearly 30 revolutionary guards. That unhappy city is still in a state of virtual military occupation, of the most brutal variety. Innocent civilians have been gunned down for the crime of walking at night, and plainclothes killers have gone door to door among the homes of bazaar shopkeepers, and killing anyone who answers the bell. . . .

– It has been a very hot summer, and the electrical grid in and around Tehran has given up the ghost many times, especially in recent weeks. Not only have citizens suddenly found their lights and air conditioning out-sometimes for half the day or night–but the two big automobile factories have already reduced production by one full shift a day. The president has publicly blamed the problem on foreigners, as is his wont, but his problems are local;

– as the regime increasingly wages war against itself, the comings and goings of seemingly powerful people have become almost impossible to sort out. There have been repeated purges in the ranks of the Revolutionary Guards, and the supreme commander, Gen. Jafari, has now publicly stated that many senior officers had actively sided with the opposition. . . .

. . . [T]he regime is afraid to move decisively against their opponents. Khamenei & Co. are real tough guys when it comes to torturing and killing students, political activists, homosexuals, Bahais, Christians and women. But even when it comes to their favorite targets — the women — they retreat in the face of strong protests, as in the recent case when they suspended the stoning of a poor woman unfairly accused of adultery. Her plight has attracted international attention, and the regime backed off.

. . . Ahmadinejad seems to have lost his official theologian.

Hojattoleslam Mohammad Nasser Saghay Biria, President Ahmadinejad’s Advisor on Religious Affairs, has resigned his post in what his close associates are describing as a protest against Ahmadinejad’s alleged un-Islamic views on requirements for women to wear veil and conform to strict Islamic dress code. Ahmadinejad has not yet accepted Saghay’s resignation.

Saghay Biria is a disciple of Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi.

That last line should get your attention, because the Ayatollah in question is generally considered to be the leading light in the cult of the 12th Imam, the little boy who had been destined become the leader of Islam, but have to hide from his would-be killers some 900 years ago, and whose return would mark the End of Days. Mesbah Yazdi is said to be Ahmadinejad’s guru, so why is his disciple walking out on the president? Your guess is as good as mine, but whatever it means, it is another signpost along the death spiral of the Islamic Republic.

Rulers of the Islamic Republic are looking more and more like the gang that couldn’t shoot straight, and Banafsheh uncovered a document that should cause them considerable embarrassment. It’s a flyer, recruiting virgin women for prostitution in a brothel located in the holiest site of one of the two holiest cities in Iran: the Imam Reza Shrine in Mashad. You might wish to read the whole thing—it includes going rates—but here’s the essence of it:

In order to elevate the spiritual atmosphere, create proper psychological conditions and tranquility of mind, the Province of the Quds’eh-Razavi of Khorassan has created centers for temporary marriage (just next door to the shrine) for those brothers who are on pilgrimage to the shrine of our eighth Imam, Imam Reza, and who are far away from their spouses.

To that end, we call on all our sisters who are virgins, who are between the ages of 12 and 35 to cooperate with us.

It’s a religious thing, you see.

To me, this is a perfect symbol of the Islamic Republic: even the holiest places have been corrupted and turned into brothels and charnel houses. Degradation is the common denominator of Iranian life, and the women, starting at age 12, are its most common victims.

If and when this regime dies, rivers of blood will be spilled. This regime's hands are awash in the blood of Americans, Israelies, Lebanese, Palestinians, Iraqis and more. But the most blood the mad mullahs have spilled has been that of their own citizens. I would not want to be an IRGC member, a regime functionary or a mullah when this regime falls. I suspect it will look very much like the French Revolution, sans guillotines.

But can we wait for the regime's downfall? If the mad mullahs gets a nuclear arsenal, then they will in essence be able to insure their borders with a nuclear deterrent. The bloody history of this regime suggests that they would then beome an incredibly destabilizing and destructive force.

That said, if I we could be assured that Obama is doing all he can, covertly and overtly, to bring down the regime of the mad mullahs, then it would probably be wise to follow that course. As to covert operations, it is impossible to say (at least until something gets handed to Wikileaks or the NYT in the near future) if Obama is doing anything in that regard. But if Obama's overt actions are any indication, then the answer is that he is doing nothing.

Obama has done nothing overtly to support the Iranian Revolution for months. When is the last time you heard him even mention Iran, let alone focus world's attention on the atrocities going on inside that country on a daily basis?

The only scenario in which American blood does not get spilled ending the mad mullah's nuclear threat is if the revolution succeeds. And yet Obama seems to be treating Iran with studied disinterest.

As Gen. Hayden pointed out above, we are rapidly approaching the time when military force may become our last viable option. At one time, I used to be concerned that attacking Iran stood a real possibility of rallying the Iranian population in favor of the regime. I think that no more. That said, is there anyone who thinks that Obama has the intestinal fortitude to commit us to a war against Iran? I say that with but one caveat. I do not think that Obama will attack Iran even on the brink of them finally achieving a nuclear arsenal unless something occurs that convinces hime that he will benefit politicaly in the 2012 election. That, rather than America's best interest, will be Obama's penultimate deciding factor.

And if Obama does nothing, then, unless by the grace of God the revolution succeeds, it will fall to the next President to deal with Iran. By then, the potential cost to our nation in blood and gold to solve the problem of the mad mullahs may be very high indeed. This is an existential race. It would be nice if Obama engaged in it.

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